A group of veterans, myself included, spent a week on the border of Mexico and the U.S. at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. While there, I saw some of the most beautiful sights and some of the most heartbreaking. The National Butterfly Center is a place that children and adults (who the locals call “winter Texans”) alike come to see birds and butterflies. It is educational and really fun. Trump’s wall is supposed to go right through the center and destroy a huge part of that ecosystem. Future generations will never be able to enjoy the beauty and education the center provides if the wall goes up.

The local ecosystem depends on each piece flowing together in harmony to work. No walls. No destroyed habitat. Humans are just one small piece of our ecosystem. We are not special and we depend on it as much as it depends on us living gently within it. Birds and butterflies are needed pollinators that allow vegetation to continue growing year after year. We need vegetation for food, and flooding prevention requires vegetation as well. Trump’s wall takes zero flooding risk into account. People’s homes and financial stability are at risk. The ecosystem is at risk. We are at risk.

Our country has a long and well-documented history of destabilizing Latin American governments. Unstable governments cannot provide for their people. A lack of support for basic human needs creates the drive to move. How dare we tell people that we don’t understand or care about their need for food, medicine, shelter, schools, and clean water. How dare we tell immigrants to do something the “right” way when we ourselves have never come close to doing the same.

I, as a veteran, feel like it should be our MISSION to help folks at the border cross faster with less trauma. I fought to defend our land, which includes our wild spaces that are proven to help the veteran population cope with the traumas of war after discharge. I fought to protect our freedom. Freedom FROM harm, not freedom to DO harm. Freedom to allow people to have a better life in a better place.

People deserve to have the families they want, when they want, and to be able to raise them the way they see fit. Placing a physical barrier between people trying to find safety and the safety they seek cannot be described as anything other than malicious. Trump’s harmful rhetoric created a sense of emergency that is completely fabricated. The people trying to enter the U.S. are people trying to improve their lives. The people overly concerned about the so called “criminal element,” need to do a simple google search about who crosses and why. They then need to do research about all of the trafficking in the US and focus on that. Destroying our access to the Rio Grande and our wild spaces for the sake of — political gain? — is so evil and unnecessary.

People crossing the border are at risk of experiencing unimaginable things. We need to understand that some of those experiences lead them to need abortion access. As stated before, if people are unable to raise children in a healthy environment safely, they need to have abortion access. If people are assaulted while traveling and it results in a pregnancy, they need to have abortion access. Trump’s border wall is connected with horrible policy that treats migrants like criminals and denies them their basic rights such as prenatal care or abortion. Detainees being denied the right to abortion is unconscionable.

Willful ignorance of the fact that things can go wrong seems to be a classic American trait. We make policy from a place of ignorance, and then listen to individuals stories of struggle with awe and amazement. We listen and go, “wow what kind of awful government would do that to people”. Well, it’s us. We do it with our silence. We do it with our willful ignorance.

We are consistently having to be reminded that life doesn’t always work out the way we intended. No health insurance until we are injured. Blue lives matter until your family member gets roughed up for no reason. Eyes closed and fingers firmly in your ears ignoring the state by state dismantling of various protections until your home, your abortion access, your job, and your health are in jeopardy. Can we stop this now? Can we wisen up, protect our wild spaces, protect our right to access abortion, and understand that people are just trying to create a safe place for their families? Pretty please?

Alex Ferencz is the Reproductive Rights Outreach Director at ProgressNow Colorado.